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Scoring a new lipstick is one of those simple life pleasures that really can brighten your day—particularly when you’re shopping at the drugstore and this little pick-me-up comes without a hit to your wallet. While drugstore lippies were once somewhat hit or miss when it came to things like texture, wear time, and color choices, the category has come a long way in recent years. That being said, given that there are so many great choices to pick from, we wanted to make things a little easier for you.
Check out our favorite drugstore lipsticks, below.
Best Overall: Maybelline New York Color Sensational Creamy Mattes Lip Color
Doesn't exaggerate lip lines and dryness
Doesn't layer well
Once upon a time, not so long ago, the concept of a “creamy matte” was an oxymoron; matte formulas were almost by definition notoriously drying. This standout is proof positive that that’s no longer the case. The classic bullet delivers creamy, even color with every swipe and boasts a perfectly velvety texture that never emphasizes lip lines or dryness.
Finish: Matte | Size: .15 oz. | Form: Liquid | Cruelty Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Budget: NYX Professional Makeup Butter Lipstick
Comes in 12 shades
Full yet lightweight coverage
Could settle better
If you’re the type that likes to buy several colors of the same lipstick at a time, this super wallet-friendly pick is ideal. All of the dozen shades pack ultra-saturated color with a gorgeous satin finish that hits the ideal balance between shiny and matte. Plus, the formula is super versatile. Layer it under lip gloss for more dimension, or blot it in with your fingertips for more of a stained effect.
Finish: Satin | Size: .15 oz. | Form: Tube | Cruelty Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Shade Range: Flower Beauty Petal Pout Lip Color
Over 20 shade choices
True to color
Might be somewhat dry for some
Not only does this pick come in more than 20 colors, but that lineup is perfectly extensive, offering a little something for everyone and ranging from barely-there nudes to bright and bold berries. The hues also come in both cream and matte finishes, though no matter which one you pick, you’re guaranteed to reap the same conditioning benefits across the board.
Finish: Matte and Cream | Size: .11 oz. | Form: Tube | Cruelty Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Long-Wearing: Maybelline New York SuperStay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick
Highly pigmented color choices
Easy precise application
Dried texture could be more comfortable
We are, for lack of a better word, obsessed with this liquid lipstick and the staying power it delivers. In all the many (many) times we’ve used it, it has never rubbed off on anything or anyone, staying put through greasy burgers, countless cups of coffee, and even makeout sessions. There’s an extensive lineup of shades that continues to expand and the doe-foot brush makes precise application easier than ever. Pro tip: If you do want to apply more than one coat, make sure each layer is fully dry before doing so.
Finish: Matte | Size: .17 oz. | Form: Liquid | Cruelty Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Matte: NYX Professional Makeup Matte Lipstick
Velvety, creamy texture
Enhanced with Vitamin E
Wide range of 23 shades
Dried texture could be better
Former Byrdie Editorial Director Faith Xue raves about this pick, which boasts a matte finish that’s impressively velvety but never the least bit chalky. The creamy texture also glides on smoothly without every pulling or tugging, and the range of 23 shades offers a great mix of wearable nudes, classic reds, and more.
Finish: Matte | Size: .15 oz. | Form: Tube | Cruelty Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Shiny Finish: Revlon Ultra HD Vinyl Lip Polish
Easy to apply
Nice sweet mango and vanilla fragrance
Not super long-lasting
For those who like their lips to have some sheen but don’t want to deal with the stickier texture of a gloss, this liquid formula is ideal. More of a lip lacquer than a true lipstick, the pigment has a mirror-like shine yet still offers complete coverage. A reservoir tip in the brush makes it easy and mess-free to apply, and the sweet scent is just an added bonus.
Finish: Lacquer | Size: .16 oz. | Form: Liquid | Cruelty Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Crayon: Revlon Balm Stain
Shea butter is a plant lipid that comes from African shea tree nuts and is rich in fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins. It's used to help moisturize, nourish, and soothe the skin.
Comfortable wear feels like lip balm
Infused with fruit ingredients
Could be stronger in pigment
Minimal color range
Not only are lip crayons ridiculously easy to use (you really don’t even need a mirror), there’s also just something so innately fun about them. This is easily one of our faves, thanks to a base of mango, coconut, and shea butter that make the buildable color delightfully moisturizing. One swipe delivers more of a sheer tint; layer on more to amp up the stain-like effect. Bonus points for the self-sharpening tip and ultra-secure cap.
Finish: Matte | Size: .09 oz. | Form: Crayon | Cruelty Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Liquid: BLK/OPL Colorsplurge Liquid Matte Lipstick
Includes hydrating and protecting Vitamins C and E
Infused advanced polymers prevent fading
Works on darker skin tones
Minimal color range
We love liquid lipsticks for their staying power, saturated color, and dramatic look. This one checks all of those boxes, without any of the drawbacks that come with other formulas. Namely, advanced polymers make sure the pigment never cracks or fades, while vitamin E keeps the formula hydrating and comfortable. While there are only 10 shades available, the minimal range still features some fun and unexpected options, like indigo and violet.
Finish: Matte | Size: 1.13 oz. | Form: Liquid | Cruelty Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Natural: Burt's Bees Moisturizing Lipstick
18 shade options
Full of natural hydrators
Gives lips a natural color
Not super long-lasting
Moringa oil comes from the moringa plant found in the Himalayan mountains. It is rich in omega fatty acids and antioxidants, which soothe and protect the skin.
Made from 100% natural ingredients, you can feel confident that you’re not accidentally ingesting any strange chemicals (because yes, you inadvertently do end up ingesting your lip products). The formula is chock-full of all kinds of natural hydrators to condition and soften your pout—think vitamin E, moringa oil, raspberry seed oil, and, of course, beeswax. The 18 shades impart a gorgeous wash of natural color that’s equally on-brand.
Finish: Satin | Size: .64 oz. | Form: Tube | Cruelty Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Hydrating: The Lip Bar Vegan Lipstick
Not as true to color
Avocado oil is an edible oil pressed from the fruit of the avocado. For the skin, it contains vitamin E to help nourish and soothe, as well as oleic acid to promote collagen production.
Boasting ingredients more often found in lip balms than lipsticks—shea butter, coconut oil, avocado oil, vitamin E—this formula is about as moisturizing as you get, a true treat for parched lips. But don’t worry—that doesn’t mean it skimps on the color part of things. The curated lineup of shades is beautifully saturated, not to mention flattering on a wide array of skin tones.
Finish: Satin | Size: .49 oz. | Form: Tube | Cruelty Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Sheer Color: e.l.f. Cosmetics Sheer Slick Lipstick
Smooths and hydrates lips
Easy to wear
Super creamy texture
Minimal shade range
If you prefer your lips to have just a hint of color, you probably opt for tinted balms or glosses rather than traditional lipsticks, but this is one bullet worth trying. The juicy color is fresh and sheer, giving lips that "just-bitten" or ‘"I just ate a Popsicle" effect that’s so insanely beautiful. The formula is also super creamy, melting into lips immediately upon swiping. And while it only comes in eight shades, they’re all surprisingly versatile.
Finish: Sheer | Size: .06 oz. | Form: Liquid | Cruelty Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Neutrals: Milani Color Statement Lipstick
40 color options for many skin tones
Infused with Vitamins C and A for protection
Gives a glossy look
Texture could be better
We’d never dream of knocking a classic red lip, but there’s something about going nude that’s just so effortlessly pretty. Those who love themselves some neutrals will appreciate that this option comes in nine colors, all of which fall into that camp. Still, since not all nudes or neutrals are created equal, we appreciate that the offerings range from pale pinks that flatter lighter complexions to deeper browns that look great on darker skin. Plus, the formula is infused with antioxidants vitamins C and A to protect your pucker, which is always a good thing.
Finish: Satin | Size: .14 oz. | Form: Tube | Cruelty Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
What to Look for in a Drugstore Lipstick
Drugstore makeup gives you the perfect opportunity to go bold with a color that might not be in season or popular forever. Since it’s usually affordably priced, you don’t have to worry as much about using the product up within a set amount of time before it expires. Looking to try out the burgundy lipstick trend without spending too much? A drugstore lipstick is the ideal way to try something new without overcommitting. And of course, if you’re looking for your own statement lipstick, this is a great way to experiment and find one that’s right for you.
Nothing is more annoying than lipstick that makes your lips feel and look cracked and dry. No matter how lovely the color is, if the lipstick dries out your lips, it’s a pass. Look for hydrating ingredients that counteract this effect, such as avocado oil, shea butter, coconut oil, moringa oil, and vitamin E. Lipstick always wears better and longer on moisturized lips, no matter its price point.
Everyone has their favorite way to apply lipstick. If you’re a beginner, opt for formulas and containers that make it easier to apply evenly. Crayons are an ideal choice for this, whereas liquids can be a bit tricky for those without much experience in applying them. A simple stick is a great go-to for anyone unsure where to begin.
The Right Coverage
Some people want a full and thick red lacquered look from their lipstick, while others are content with light coverage with more of a glassy appearance. Decide what level of coverage you want, and choose a lipstick accordingly. Some will note that they offer matte, full coverage that lasts all day long and others note a lighter, glossier effect.
Can drugstore lipstick cause dry lips?
Any lipstick can cause dry lips depending on the formula and if you’re prone to dryness. Longwear lipsticks are often more drying, while sheerer formulas don’t tend to dry lips as much. If you have dry lips, opt for lipsticks with moisturizing ingredients, and take care of your lips by using products with ingredients like nourishing oils.
Is drugstore lipstick good for kissing?
No lipstick can be fully kiss-proof, but long-wearing lipsticks have the best chance of staying on through kissing. Byrdie writer Theresa Holland recommends several tips that help boost the strength of a long-lasting lipstick: “You can also apply the lipstick over a thin layer of concealer to help it stay put by giving it a base to cling to. There are lipstick primers available as well that can help seal your look.”
Can I use drugstore lipstick as blush?
Some people swear by using lipstick as blush. It can be a quick fix to give your cheeks some extra color when you’re on the go and don’t have any blush on you. However, it isn’t always the safest choice. That’s because lipstick is meant for your lips and not the skin on your face. Keep in mind it could potentially cause breakouts if your skin is acne-prone.
Lin TK, Zhong L, Santiago JL. Anti-inflammatory and skin barrier repair effects of topical application of some plant oils. Int J Mol Sci. 2017;19(1):70. doi:10.3390/ijms19010070
Nadeem M, Imran M. Promising features of Moringa oleifera oil: recent updates and perspectives. Lipids Health Dis. 2016;15(1):212. doi:10.1186/s12944-016-0379-0